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Over-the-counter pain relievers have proven to be an effective way of managing some of the side effects caused by the COVID-19 vaccine. Many of the symptoms like injection site soreness or headache are easily remedied by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Dr. Bob Keenan, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Quality

You may be wondering if you should try to avoid the symptoms altogether by taking a pain reliever before you receive your vaccination. The answer is, probably not.

“It’s an open question on the effects of these medications on the efficacy of the vaccine,” said Dr. Bob Keenan, chief medical officer at Moffitt Cancer Center. “It’s likely to be a minor effect, but we recommend taking the medication after, not before receiving the vaccine.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  issued similar guidelines for how to deal with the side effects of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The reason is because during the COVID-19 vaccine trials, participants were not given NSAIDs or acetaminophen before the injection.

Put simply, researchers don’t yet know what effects any premedication could have. The safest bet is to just wait until you experience symptoms before reaching for your medicine cabinet.